Where do I start? Part of me wants to do the usual beginning with the story of the chocolatier, answer questions such as why these ganaches are called Royal Merina or how visually stunning they are. But all I want to do is verbally dance around them whilst singing their praises (perhaps even wearing native attire?) I just want to convey how utterly gorgeous and how perfect they are at raising my spirits out of the dark, dank vista I have before me. Forcing myself not to give into temptation, initially at least, to the majesty of these dark chocolate ganaches, I'll begin with some background.
For me I enjoy chocolate much more greatly when I think positively of the chocolatier - there's some sort of connection that adds to the experience and makes it more vivid. This is certainly the case with Marc. Our ethical stance is the same - he has more ability to do something about it being a chocolatier rather than a blogger but I greatly appreciate his views on the enslaving of children in the production of chocolate and that's why he doesn't use cacao from Ghana or the Ivory coast. Furthermore, we have the both outlook on quality. In my own work I believe the last 5% of what we do is the difference between success and failure. Marc has a similar view when he spends a vast amount of time, money and effort in producing truly astounding chocolates. These ganaches, for example, use a proprietary method to produce the ganache that elongates the strings of molecules to give it a more light, responsive texture - much like the centre of a Milky Way - but obviously far more delicious. And it’s this attention to detail that sets the very top tier of chocolatiers apart from those that just pay lip-service to the craft.
Marc has spent many hours slaving over this creation to create that "volumising" characteristic which allows much more of the flavour to be passed on to the taste buds. And it shows. The flavours just take a split second to kick in and put your mouth into raptures - much like the end scene of Raiders of the Lost Arc with all the spirits fly around after the Ark of The Covenant had been opened. They really are that magical.
Inside this box you'll find something which is worth admiring as much as the ten commandments. Thou shall create fantastic ganaches, thou shall produce chocolate ethically, thou shall be humble with your talents, thou shall be true to the cacao bean ... you can probably think of many more ... but the Royal Merina ganaches have created their own rules for chocolate making which all true chocolatiers should strive to uphold. Let's hope these other chocolatiers buy some and see just how high the standard has been set. The flavours you'll witness are rich and fruity with a tart dryness to match. They roll in waves of delight just like the Dar Williams version of Comfortably Numb ...
... and I'd say would serve the perfect antidote to even the most stressful of days. The vanilla is certainly there, which some may feel just takes an edge off the inherent, bitter dark chocolate characteristic, but these are ganaches after all and not a bar of fine chocolate.
The visual appearance of them is also superb. Simplistic, but spot on. They're tall, proud and rustically square. They're the perfect size for two significant bites or three more dainty ones - it all depends on how long you'd like them to last. Even though these ganaches are named after the Merina people from Madagascar from where the cacao comes from, there's nothing unsophisticated about them. They're quintessentially indulgent, refined and decadent. If there's any chocolate I've tried this year that I'd whole-heartedly recommend then these would be them. At £15 for six, some may feel they're a bit out of their price range. But you could easily spend the same amount on some 50 chocolates from an unremarkable chocolatier and fee far from satisfied. If you'd like a truly memorable chocolate experience than these must be for you.
Even if these were in a blind taste test, not knowing who made them or how, I'd still be just as gushing. And I'm sure I'd find it incredibly difficult to find people who'd disagree. They are award winning after all!